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What's Missing?

October 29, 2018, 9:02 AM ET [315 Comments]
Justin Lowe
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT


The Hawks finish up the weekend with a 0-1-1 record after a 7-3 thump to St. Louis on Saturday and a 2-1 OT loss to the McDavids.

The Blue loss was just bad. This was mostly highlighted by bad coverage in the defensive zone. This is a team that the Hawks had already beat twice, however, they just happened to run into a Blues team that was fighting for their (coach's) life.

The Hawks failed to start on time on Saturday and Corey Crawford was hung out to dry for most of the night. The Blues had 14 high danger chances vs. the Hawks 5.

It was particularly a rough night for the defence and I thought Seabrook had his worst game of the year.

Jan Rutta didn't do himself any favours either and ended up stapled to the bench for the remaining 28 mins. This, unfortunately, gave more minutes to Brandon Manning, which exposed him more and highlighted once again that he's a 6th defenceman at best.

That last part is very troubling to me because, from all that I've read/heard, the Hawks viewed Brandon Manning as a solution to potentially step up and play top 4 minutes if needed.

This is a concern as there are guys in Rockford (not named Forsling) that I would put in that position out of necessity over Manning. I'm not saying he's a terrible hockey player, I'm just saying he is what he is. He tries really hard but his skills are very much limited to a bottom pairing or 7th defenceman.

A miss by the Hawks scouting staff.

Let's continue into last night's game, where the team defence was much better.

The lineup saw Davidson, Kampf and Martinsen all inserted for Rutta, Hayden and Kunitz.

The Hawks could have taken 2 points from the Oilers but failed to convert on key chances to score.

Cam Ward is more than an adequate backup and played extremely well, acting as a calming factor back there all night.

The Hawks were out-chanced in the high danger area but not as bad as in St. Louis. The total was 8 for Edmonton and 5 for Chicago.

The Hawks will get their chance at revenge against the Oilers this week. They now embark on a 3-game road trip out west:

@ Vancouver – Wednesday
@ Edmonton – Thursday
@ Calgary – Saturday

Despite the positive signs of this team – Patrick Kane leading the league in goals, Toews' strong play, Crawford's return, and the emergence of a top 4 defenceman out of nowhere in Henri Jokiharju – this team is still missing something.

The Hawks are 6-3-3, good for 4th in the Western Conference. You have to look at how tough the Central Division is though; 5 of the top 15 Western Conf. teams are from the Central. One slip up and the Hawks could fall too far out of the playoff race. And yes, I know it's only one month in, but in this league teams can be out by Christmas time.

The Hawks have proven they can score, tied for 1st in the West (with Colorado) with 41 goals but have given up the most in the conference with 43.

I will chalk up the above to a few inflated games – good and bad.

That's how the team looks in the standings, but let's breakdown by position to see what's missing:

Goaltending: Cam Ward shakily kept the Hawks winning games for the 5 contest. He will now settle into an above average backup now that Corey is back playing to the level he is. Forsberg is also in Rockford is the Hawks need him. I'm not worried about the goalie situation.

Defence: Even though the Hawks have given up the most goals in the conference, I attribute that to as much as team defence as the 7 D the Hawks have used this year.

As mentioned above, I am loving Jokiharju's play, however, perplexed on why Brandon Manning happened.

Now with Forsling healthy and Connor Murphy about a month away, the Hawks have some decisions to make.

After hearing that Stan Bowman and VP of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart, were at the IceHogs game on Wednesday last week, I looked into it.

There was a good chance that Bowman was just there taking in a game while the Hawks were off.

Then, Bowman was in attendance again on Saturday while the Hawks were in St. Louis.

I started to hear that there were more whispers than normal about the Hawks looking to make something happen.

I heard that they would "like to see Forsling in Chicago as soon as possible, but have this logjam that Stan has created."

It appears that Bowman and Stewart were evaluating the 7 D that Colliton dressed (Forsling, Dahlstrom, Hillman, Campbell, Carlsson, Raddysh, Gilbert).

What's not clear is if it would be a minor move to make room or a larger deal to ship a guy out of the big club.

Overall, I think the Hawks D could use another top 4 defenceman, but don't think that is happening until a full evaluation can take place when everyone is healthy.

Also, looking forward to the future, I don't see the Hawks making any big splashes for a defender unless it's for a guy on an expiring contract.

Keep in mind they don't want to block the path for guys like Mitchell, Beaudin, Boqvist, Hillman, Dahlstrom, Carlsson, etc.

The play of Jokiharju, as well as Gustafsson's improved 2-way play, is something that the Hawks can be excited about. Moving forward I think they want to see what it looks like with everything there. I think we see something like:

Keith-Jokiharju
Gustafsson-Seabrook
Forsling-Murphy

Then you have to make a decision on Manning, Rutta and Davidson.

So, when looking at that, I think the Hawks may be better than originally thought.

Forwards:

The Hawks have relied on Kane, Toews and Debrincat for 61% of their goals. They need more from the depth players if they are going to succeed this year.

To me, this is where they are missing something… someone.

Brandon Saad has played better of late, but he is not a game changer on a consistent basis, unfortunately.

Nick Schmaltz is playing better on a 3rd line role, but he's not scoring goals.

Anisimov has played well this year but is what he is.

The Hawks are missing a playing in the top 6 that can step up when the game is on the line and offer that "umpf" that the Hawks 100% rely on Patrick Kane for.

The Hawks have a lot of bottom 6 players that I think will be an important part of this team this year and beyond, but the Hawks need to find another scorer who currently is not with this organization.

This is what the stats and my eyes are telling me.

What are your thoughts?

--

Finally, quick update from Rockford, they had a mirror of a weekend that the Hawks did with a 0-1-1 record.

They have some injuries starting to build as well. With Jordan Schroeder already out day-to-day, they lost Dahlstrom (doesn't appear to be serious) and Highmore (could be a more serious shoulder injury) in last night's game.

See ya out there,

JL
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